Grits, Eggs, Warm Bacon-Tomato Relish

I am your brunch, and I am Divine.

Hey you.

Are you an intuitive cook? Me too. Do you think measuring spoons are cute but often find them superfluous? Do your discerning eyes and tongue guide you smartly through your kitchen? Ok, this recipe is for you. This dish is in your future. Make it to taste. But surely, make it, because the combination is such a winner.

–See my previous post for a great grits recipe here.–

1. Start the plate with baked grits. (Hey, maybe you want to use my recipe for Cracked Pepper Cheddar Grits!
2. Top with an egg (poached, fried, heck-maybe even scrambled)
3. Finish with a generous spoonful or two of this Warm Bacon-Tomato Relish.

Warm Bacon-Tomato Relish
a recipe sans measurements
inspired by a dish I adored at the Redbud Café

chopped fresh tomato
chopped red onion
bit of olive oil
chopped cooked bacon or a bit of bacon grease
balsamic vinegar (to taste, a teaspoon or two)
minced garlic
bit of dried thyme

Put everything in a small saucepan and simmer over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, for 15-20 minutes. The tomatoes should still have a bit of bite to them. Serve warm. The tang and acidity make this a great complement to cheesy, creamy grits.

Me and Mom, quite alike but differently adapted.


Cracked Pepper Cheddar Grits

In the past two weeks I’ve received not one but TWO bags of local fresh coarsely-ground corn grits (from different sources). How lucky! More on that later. But first, a simple recipe for cheesy grits to use as a side dish or a base.

These grits have sharp cheddar cheese and a bit of salty Parmesan for perk. I prefer to use a colorful peppercorn mix, but black pepper is fine too. And don’t leave out the bacon grease!

Cracked Pepper Cheddar Grits

serves 4-6

4 cups water
1 cup coarse ground grits (not quick grits)
1 1/4 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 tbsp bacon grease
1 tsp salt
freshly ground peppercorns to taste (black/white/green/red mix is best)

Bring water to a rolling boil, then stir in grits. Reduce heat to a simmer (medium-low), cover with a lid and let grits simmer for about 25 minutes. Stir occasionally to avoid lumps. After the first 25 minutes, stir in cheeses and all other ingredients until everything is incorporated smoothly. Let simmer for a couple more minutes. At this point the grits are ready to eat (in the porridge-like form).

For baked grits, pour grits into an oven-safe dish and bake 45 minutes at 350 degrees.

For more solid grits (like polenta), chill cooked grits until firm (overnight, to prepare a day ahead), then bake at 350 degrees for 35-45 minutes.

Think of what you could put on top!

Visit my next post to see what I put on top of those grits!

Barbecue and Hoecakes!

These things! They go together so well!

We first tried this with roasted pork butt; tonight it was roasted chicken. Homemade barbecue sauce is simple to simmer up if you have ketchup and spices on hand–I’ll share the base recipe plus the add-ins for two distinct and delectable varieties I came up with whilst running back and forth from the stovetop to the pantry: Black Raspberry Chipotle BBQ and Smoky Molasses BBQ. These sauces are bold–tangy, tasty, spicy, and a little bit sweet. (I even recently gave a jar of each to a friend as a birthday gift.) And the little corn cakes are super simple and quick to prepare; superb with smoky meat resting atop!

Hoecakes + roasted/smoked chicken or pork + spicy barbecue sauce + your favorite cool coleslaw

That, my friends, equals a down-home appetizer or a Southern-fried dinner!

Base Barbecue Sauce:
makes about 5 cups of sauce

1/2 cup canola oil
2 medium onions, chopped
5 cloves garlic, chopped
2 ¾ cups ketchup
1 cup water
2 tbsp chili powder
1 cup Dijon mustard
2 tbsp paprika (smoked or regular)
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (from can), chopped
¼ cup brown sugar

Heat oil in a medium saucepan; add onions and sauté until soft. Add garlic and sauté 1-2 minutes more. Stir in the ketchup and water. Bring mixture to a boil; simmer 5 minutes. Add all other ingredients and simmer 5 minutes more. Spoon sauce into a blender and puree until smooth. Return sauce to pan. For Black Raspberry Chipotle, add 6 tablespoons black raspberry preserves. For Smoky Molasses, add 2 tsp Liquid Smoke, 2 tsp molasses, 1 tsp cumin, and 1/2 tsp ground cloves. Simmer and serve. Sauce will keep for at least 3 weeks in the fridge. *The base sauce is fairly spicy due to the chipotle peppers–omit them if you can’t take the heat!

Hoecakes (Corn Cakes)
makes 10-12

1 cup yellow cornmeal
2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1 egg
3/4 cup water
1/2 cup whole kernel corn (fresh or canned)

vegetable oil

Mix cornmeal, baking powder, salt, egg, water, and corn in a mixing bowl. Coat griddle or skillet with vegetable oil and heat to medium-high heat. Spoon cornmeal batter onto griddle and fry cakes until golden brown on each side.

Tonight’s Broccoli-Cabbage Coleslaw:

2-3 cups shredded cabbage
small broccoli crown, chopped
2 chopped radishes
a couple tablespoons chopped red onion
about 1/2 cup mayonnaise
rice vinegar to taste
sugar to taste
salt to taste
dried cilantro
sesame seeds

Mix it all together. It is good, very good.